By Graphics Expert
I am a blogger, graphic designer and a small business owner with roots in multiple cities. I actually learned graphic designing the hard way, from Photoshop, AutoCAD, Sketchup etc. This ability of mine to turn my products, whether a blog, poster or online advert, into an eye catching, readable and just the right sized description helped me in getting the followers as well as customers both online and in the real world. However, designing a single poster at times used to take hours, thus consuming lots of time. Similarly, making blogs, articles, newsletters; even after having the script, used to take hours just to finalize it. Moreover, in order to get creative ideas, I had to at times search online or look into magazines for hours as well. I therefore, started getting frustrated as it was consuming my valuable time which I actually could have had used elsewhere. Thus, I started looking for options online, which can assist me in making quality designs for my posters, blogs, articles, adverts etc. and also have ready to use templates. I did find multiple applications but non was as simple, as complete and as professional as was Canva.
Brief Description about Canva
Canva is an online (on both Computer and Android/ iOS) graphics tool which is extremely simple to use and offers an empire states load of templates that can help out any small business owner looking for professional designs. It is a quick and easy way to create visuals and help especially those who are unskilled in the art of Graphic Designing.
How it works!
Generally, Canva is almost similar to anything in its category available online nowadays. You sign up (with Google+ or an email address) and then just pickup the breadcrumbs. Canva will ask you to choose what type of graphic you are trying to create, then it will suggest various template visuals. Canva has a large number of features that its users can use to improve their graphics and designs, including:
A. Image cropping
B. Adding text to photographs
C. Speech and thought bubble creator
D. Image editing, transparency, straightening, and enhancing
E. Thousands of templates for all possible types of marketing collateral, ranging from social media posts to business cards
F. Grids to ensure straight, balanced designs
G. Photo and image frames
H. Stickers and badges for websites Blog posts
It is a very easy to use tool, even easier than MS Paint or PhotoGrid. All I needed to do was choose a layout and template I liked followed by customizing it as per my needs. Everything here is just drag and drop, and text can be edited much like text boxes in any other graphic design software’s. I have to say here, it is very easy to use. And hundreds of other layouts to choose from assists this narrative. The same I will also explain later
Canva is for both, free users and paid users. Although there are many other similar apps available online, but none comes closer to professionalism and high quality outputs in both resolution and size, offered anywhere else I looked for, then at Canva. This quality output, from which I can actually print various sized posters etc. is the real differentiator between free and paid users at Canva. There are over a million images for paid accounts. Free accounts are kind of more limited. For those who are using the free version, Canva has slightly more limited templates available to choose from. Even more importantly, it does not offer you many images. Images you want to use will have to be your own or licensed for you to use. It will sell you images at US $1 or higher a piece though.
Those who opt for a paid, business class account not only gets full access to Canva but also gets a 30-member team account (which can be really helpful for a business with large marketing team) plus access to what Canva claims is a at a base of hundreds of thousands images. It also assists to resize designs. In addition, the set of fonts, colour palettes and the ability to save templates adds to the capabilities of Canva. Cherry on top, it also gives priority support to paid users. Hence pricing plan at 12-13 US $ per month is inexpensive and fair to be honest, especially considering everything that comes with it. However, users can still get what they need out of it without paying a single penny. And for those who only use it now and again can also opt to purchase the $1 photographs, layouts, or templates without having to commit to an ongoing payment plan.
Canva has a full support page, with a search bar, articles, and tabs that can make it easier to quickly find solutions against problems. Moreover, there are contact forms also available for big issues, such as billing problems, but it is harder to find email contacts or phone numbers for the support team. This can definitely be an issue for many users, especially when time is a concerning factor.
Real Experiences of Canva
Canva offers many, many options for designing; however, it can also make you feel lost in an open sea. Therefore, initially I setup my priorities straight and only looked for exactly what I wanted to try, i.e. designing a brochure. The main reason for choosing brochure designing was actually to test its quality output as printing brochures often require higher resolution files for them to turn out nicely after print. Nevertheless, it was good to see that once I had tested the brochure template, system offered me an option to download the file as a printable PDF. As a professional designer, I had to admit that the time it took me to design that quality of brochure with great colour combinations was at least 4 times lesser then what it would have had taken me on Photoshop, even though I was using Canva for the first time. So I also counter checked with another designer friend of mine and he agreed that the brochure was simplistic (he is, after all, a designer) but definitely usable in print. This was a critical point to note for small businesses owners like me thinking of using Canva as a business tool that aside from downloading copies of my finished design, I could also share them directly on Twitter or Facebook as well as emailing people from within the tool to invite them for collaboration in the design of whatever I am working on.And, I can actually print it in good quality in real time.
Just to get another unbiased view from others, I also asked for comments from other people I know who are using Canva and one of them gave me quite an interesting perspective. She is a teacher/ educator/ esthetician and she mentioned that Canva is great to use to create simple lesson plans, story boards, info graphic visuals to help teach her students. However, my another designer friend, on the contrary, had nothing great to say about it except for one thing – that it did not consume the massive resources that Photoshop does.
As far as I am concerned, for most of my professional career, I have been either a designer or blogger and have quite a bit of experience with layouts and graphics, even if not producing them myself; due to which I analysed immediately the immense time saving that I have with Canva. It is immensely easy to use, I found that for the type of high resolution output required, it does a great job. It is great for creating instant visuals which can be shared with probably thousands of other people. Therefore, I believe that Canva can be highly valuable from a small business or personal standpoint, especially for those who have limited or scarce graphic designing experience. Canva can actually bring small businesses to real quality with respect to all graphic marketing tools available online or offline at par with large businesses who are actually paying hundreds for the same job.